Wrought iron gate and “community garden” of a County Antrim village
Ahoghill residents shocked at sale of new ‘community garden’
A County Antrim village is set to lose its recently opened community garden as the site is to be cleared and sold off.
However, the site is owned by the Roads Service which is in the process of selling off the land to a new owner.
A spokeswoman said they had not given approval for the garden and had warned residents that it was to be sold.
The garden was officially opened to the public just days ago and the villagers invited representatives from the Royal Horticultural Society’s Britain in Bloom awards to the event to show them what they had achieved.
The DUP’s David McIlveen, said it would be “an absolute disgrace if this sale is allowed to proceed and Ahoghill loses this wonderful facility”.
Speaking to the Ballymena Guardian, the North Antrim MLA said: “The garden is a beautiful space in the village, and has purely come about by hard work from a dedicated team and financial support from local businesses.”
Local residents have worked hard to spruce up the site in their main street
Ahoghill has held the Britain in Bloom Best Small Town in Ulster four times and has been selected a finalist in the 2012 awards which are due to be announced in October.
Mr McIlveen said local residents and business had been “working tirelessly to spruce up the village and to ensure that it is looking its best” during the competition’s judging period.
In a statement, the Department for Regional Development’s (DRD) Roads Service said it had “never given any formal approval allowing people to build a community garden on DRD land at Ahoghill village”.
“Indeed, when Roads Service was alerted to the work going on on DRD land, Roads Service informed the people involved and told them they should not be building on the land and, indeed, informed them the land was for sale.
“The land is in the process of being disposed and for the sale to be completed, Roads Service has no option but to make sure the site is cleared for the new owner,” the statement added.
They said they will work with Ahoghill residents “to discuss a reasonable timeframe for them to organise removal” of the garden.